31 Ways to Nurture Yourself for Caregivers

nurture

The Importance of Self-Care Increases with Caregiving

If you spend time caring for someone else, you need to make sure that you spend thoughtful time caring for yourself. This month on my other blog, I’m writing a series on 31 Ways to Nurture Yourself. So often people tell caregivers, “Take time to take care of yourself,” but in the stress of caring for someone else, caregivers can’t figure out what exactly that means.

You can find ideas, as well as the psychology behind self-care and self-nurturing over at www.anitaojeda.com.

A fellow caregiver, Karen Sebastian, also has a great series (this one designed especially for caregivers), called the ABCs of Self-Nurture for Caregivers.

Julie Steele has a series about mothering one’s self. You’ll find great ideas for self-care.

Tammy McDonald has a series on grief that might interest you, too.

If you do nothing else today to care for yourself, take the time to visit one of these series and glean some great ideas on how to take care of yourself! Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy and patience to take care of someone else!

If you don't take time to care for yourself, you won't have the energy and patience to care for… Click To Tweet

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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In the Midst of Catastrophe and Crisis

You do what you need to do

When catastrophe hits and crises arise, it’s perfectly okay to Just Do You!

When catastrophe strikes and crises arise, caregivers and survivors often struggle with guilt and surreal feelings of isolation and wonder that life moves on around us.

Sometimes we are caught so deeply in our own battle that we forget others face different fights. But even harder –  we’re bewildered that some people obliviously go on as if nothing is wrong. That one is hard to take!

Hurricane Harvey blew into the world’s riveted attention in a catastrophic way.

We all watch and wonder at the overwhelming flooding – both literally with water, and figuratively with loss.  Many people are praying and thousands of people are helping.  Meanwhile the people in south Texas  are doing what survivor’s do: working together in amazing ways to get through this.

Friday, Kirsten Oliphant, a fellow blogger and a hurricane Harvey survivor from Katy, TX, posted this:

“It’s not that I don’t care what’s going on in the world. It’s not that I’m not happy for other people or sad for other sad events. It’s not that I don’t hope for some version of “normal” in my life.

BUT. If there were a Hide Everything But Posts about Helping People Affected by Harvey option, I’d turn it on.

I’m just not ready for the outside world yet. Not that people shouldn’t be living it. They should! I just kinda can’t handle it right now.”

This hit me right between the eyes and sank deep into my soul!

I remember those days – facing the same four hospital walls day after day while my four-year-old lay fought Leukemia for his life. My mind jumps to a visit from family that meant the world to me.  They dropped everything and came to visit. Andrew had received blood the night before and so was happy and communicative as the family sat around discussing their plans.  They’d driven down from a small town to the big city where the Children’s Hospital housed us.  They were chatting and I zoned out, clicking back into the conversation to hear them mentioning hitting stores for back-to-school shopping.

It startled me – this mundane thing that people out in the real world were doing.  Shopping, especially Back-to-school shopping.  How could that be?  We had life and death stuff going on right here and frankly, I couldn’t think of anything else.  I nodded while the talk flowed around me.  It made sense.  Of course people needed to get their kids back into school.  Why not combine a a hospital visit for a nephew with a shopping spree in the city.  My mind came to grips with this shopping expedition and tuned back into the conversation.

“…and then we’re going to go to the river with Jim and Sarah and go jet-skiing this afternoon!  It should be fun!”

Wait.  What did they say?

They’re going JET-SKIING?  Is this even a thing?  Suddenly I couldn’t breathe.  While I could come to grips with necessary shopping,  or playing with friends, doing things that weren’t just fun, but extra fun was to bizarre for my mind to even process.  I nodded and smiled (I hope) while my mind struggled with alternate reality.

I wasn’t ready to let the outside world in because this world – this moment, this fight – were all I could handle.

That felt weird.  And selfish.  And uncaring.  I didn’t want to hear about fun my family was having.  When my mom told me about someone else fighting cancer, I sympathized, but cringed.  It was SO HARD to handle.

Awful.  I felt like an awful person that underwent an overnight transformation from someone who always cared about others to someone who just focused on this moment, this medical procedure and this fight.

Kiki said it so well, it’s “not that people shouldn’t be living it.  They should!  I just can’t handle it.”

Well, here’s what my three-and-a-half year leukemia battle for my son’s life taught me.  It’s all right everyone.  Handle what you can handle and just let the rest go until God tells you to take it up again.  Don’t feel guilty because if you try to take on more, you might just fall apart.

In catastrophe and crisis, it's ok to handle what you can deal with and shut the rest out!… Click To Tweet

God made our amazing bodies and brains to shut down what’s not necessary in the fight-or-flight process and when we SHOULD handle more, we will.

Until that moment just relax and let God handle things for you.  No guilt – no shame – no apologies.

You just do you.

Just Do You #hurricaneharvey #caregiving Click To Tweet

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Easy Sweet Potato Quesadillas Smothered in Tomatillo Sauce

Vegan and Gluten-free (if you wish)

quesadillas

Healthy Food Choices Inspire Me

Healthy (er) food choices always inspire me. Take, for instance, lowly quesadillas. I’d never even heard of them until I started college, and after we married, we often ate them because they only took a few minutes to prepare. Somewhere along the way, we started adding beans to them, because all that cheese might taste good, but we knew it probably didn’t help our overall state of health.

I’ve been playing with quesadilla recipies for twenty years now, and this one wins every time.

Vegan Quesadillas?

I know, ‘vegan quesadillas’ sounds like an oxymoron. But in our family, anything that comes to the table in a folded-in-half-crispy-tortilla is a ‘quesadilla’. If you’re not vegan, add some cheese if you can’t stand eating a ‘quesadilla’ without the queso! Or, try it without—it’s quite tasty and a family favorite.

quesadillas
Print

Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Tomatillo Sauce

If you'd like to try the gluten-free version, simply use corn tortillas instead of whole-wheat tortillas.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Anita Ojeda

Ingredients

  • 3 Sweet Potatoes Peeled and grated. We use the lighter-skinned ones.
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 jalapeño chopped (remove the seeds and pith is want a more mild flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt add more if desired
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat a very large non-stick frying pan or a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil and then cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds turn brown, lower the heat a little and add the onions, jalapeño and garlic. Stir occasionally until the onions are almost caramel colored.

    quesadilla
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and the 1/3 cup of water and stir everything together before covering the skillet. Every 3-5 minutes, remove the lid and stir the mixture. Cooking time will depend on which type of sweet potato you used (the lighter ones will take a little longer). When the sweet potatoes are almost cooked (they will be tender), add the salt and chopped cilantro and stir well.

  3. While the sweet potatoes cook, start the tomatillo sauce.

Print

tomatillos

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 6-7 to matillos
  • 1 shallot or ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ jalapeño
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 3 Tbs. cilantro
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tsps. chicken-flavored seasoning I like Bill’s Chickenish Flavoring.

Instructions

  1. Peel the papery layer from the tomatillos and rinse the tomatillos. Cut them into large wedges or circles. Cut the shallot, jalapeños and garlic into large chunks (everything will be blended, so you don’t have to chop anything into fine pieces). Heat a medium, non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then all of the chopped veggies. Stir and then lower the heat to medium. Stir occasionally. 

    quesadillas
  2. When the veggies start to look ‘roasted’, add the almonds and cook for another two minutes. 

  3. Put the water, salt and chicken-flavored seasoning into a high powered blender (I have a BlendTec) and then add the ‘roasted’ veggies. Blend everything until it’s semi-smooth. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

  4. To assemble the ‘quesadillas’: Heat a lightly greased skillet or griddle to medium and lay your favorite brand of whole-wheat tortillas on the griddle and place about ¾ a cup of the sweet potato filling on one side of the tortilla (pretend it’s cheese 😉 ). Fold the tortilla in half and repeat with the other tortillas. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, and then top with two tablespoons of the tomatillo sauce and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

We prefer whole-wheat tortillas.

Try this #meatlessmonday #sweetpotato #quesadilla! Tasty and you could even try it #vegan! Click To Tweet

If you’d like to know why we eat the way we do, check out the Healthy (er) Choices Manifesto.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Take Care of Yourself: Six Ways to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

While still caring for your patient

In the middle of taking care of our loved one, we often don’t take care of ourselves.

Cancer Caregiving 101: Take Care of Yourself and Prevent Caregiver Burnout

When others offer to entertain your loved one, take time to go for a walk or relax by yourself–DON’T do housework!

“Now you must realize,” the doctor straightened the papers into the already thick folder as he finished summarizing the diagnosis, treatment protocol and prognosis, “with a best-case scenario, we’re in for a long haul. You two must take care of yourselves, too. This is not easy on parents, either, and you can’t let yourselves get run down.”

The nurse bustled into the room, loaded with scary looking objects which she unloaded in the room’s small bathroom. “So, you cannot touch this hat in the toilet, we can’t have his samples contaminated. Also, be sure you don’t let any urine touch you when you help your little guy go – because it will burn a hole in your skin.” There followed some more directions of what not to touch in the room and what not to do and what I needed to help Andrew with and what I needed to remember. As she breezed back out the door, having set these little traps all over the room, she paused in the doorway, “Mrs. Bovee, you need to remember to take care of yourself through this…this will be a long, tough road.”

After a two-week stint in the hospital with a feverish and neutropenic boy, I was home, frantically trying to

recuperate the family from separation, restore the house from chaos and prevent the laundry piles from taking over the world. As I sorted and started a load, a neighbor followed me from washing machine to dryer, not helping, but faithfully entreating me that I needed to “take care of yourself! Carol, you are just working too hard! You need to let go!”

I stumbled along beside the gurney as we returned from the spinal tap, wiping my tired eyes and unsuccessfully hiding a yawn behind my hand. The nurse, pushing a dopey Andrew, smiled sympathetically at me. “Carol, I hope you’re taking care of yourself. We see so many parents pushing so hard. You’ve got to take time out. Don’t forget you’ll need to recharge your batteries too.”

We received that advice throughout Andrew’s treatment. “You parents need to take care of yourselves too.” “Remember that you can help your boy best if you’re taking care of yourself too.” “Take some time for you!”

Great advice.
Perfect!
Ideal.
Laudable recommendations from caring souls.

“Don’t lift that boy – he’s too heavy for your back!” – OK, but he’s four, sick to his stomach, neutropenic, tired…I’m supposed to tell him he’s on his own?

“Don’t worry about the housework, take care of yourself.” – OK, but I cannot have a sick boy around dirt…is someone going to clean it for me?

“Make sure you eat regular and healthy meals!” – Ok. But the procedures are always during breakfast time, recuperation through lunch, driving through supper and falling into bed. When was I supposed to eat? And what in the world is a ‘regular time’?

The job needs to be kept, the house needs to be clean, the kids need to be loved, the meals need to be fixed, the sick one needs to be cared for – when, exactly, was I supposed to “take care of me”?

Truly, all I could concentrate on, throughout my son’s illness, was him! It wasn’t until it was too late, and I was in trouble, that I realized what I had done to myself. So the question I hear, from so many caregivers, is this:

HOW do I take care of myself, when my primary job is to take care of him/her? (tweet this)
I’m probably the last person to take advice from, as I did not necessarily do it right. On the other hand, maybe I’m a good person to listen to—I can honestly look back over my journey and say that there are things I would do no differently even if I could have known exactly what I know now. I would still give 150% to my child and my family.

However, there are some things that I wish I could go back and change, or do better:

1. Delegate the little things as much as you can: you cannot delegate the worry, no one else can carry your pain and your patient might not want you to delegate personal care. So delegate the windows being washed, the lawn getting mown, handing someone your money and your shopping list, etc. Delegate as much as you can. Sometimes that means swallowing your pride, but it might help you avoid swallowing medication later! ☺

2. Make lists. If someone offers to help – have a list ready of things they might be able to help with. If you have nothing you can think of right that moment (I remember someone offering to help while we were waiting for Andrew to come out of a procedure – nice, but not where my brain was right that moment), then write their offer down and get contact information and ask if you could call on them sometimes.

3. Ask. Don’t be afraid to call your pastor or a neighbor or a co-worker and let him/her know of a need. A lot of people think we caregivers have it all under control and don’t think to even ask if there’s a need. But many would help if they knew of a need. One person said to me, “It’s OK to allow someone else to have the blessing of helping you.” I had never thought about it that way before, and that was releasing to me.

4. Be willing to let go: sometimes, we caregivers think we need to be superman and wonder woman all rolled into one. We can’t. Or maybe, like in my case, I could for a while, but sustaining that after a while becomes impossible. Take the help that’s offered. And also let go of how that help is done. It might not measure up to your standards – but it will probably work!

5. Search out quiet moments. The days of caregiving are often busy and hectic, and when they are quiet, they can be scary. Grab moments of quiet to journal or to process some of what’s been going on. Take those moments to evaluate how you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Is it time to get some help? Do you need to find someone to talk to?

6. Expect less of yourself. This one has nothing to do with others’ helping, and everything to do with you deciding that it might be OK if you don’t get things done. Maybe you need to say no to some things you used to do. A caregiver has to re-examine priorities; and in that re-examination, one of those priorities has to be you. Your sanity, your health, your ability to keep on going.

It IS possible to take care of yourself, even while taking care of your loved one!… Click To Tweet

What ways have you found to take care of yourself?

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Hearts of Love on Valentine’s Day

In a turbulent world, let's share love

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s love not just in word, but in deed.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and that means hearts and chocolates, lace and roses, confessions of love and statements of commitment.  Our society, here in the United States, seems to be undergoing a fierce shaking apart.  Those who profess love protest in the streets.  The ones hurting the deepest feel the most alone while the loudest voices shake in anger.

And we serve a God who says, “Love one another.”

That’s what He asks.  What are we going to do?

This week at my school (I teach grades 7-10) we’re collecting Pennies for Patients.  At our youth group we collected toiletries for people without homes.  On my Facebook feed I see dear friends who’ve lost a parent and/or I see pleas for help for new cancer diagnoses, large bills for treatment or prayers for comfort as a loved one goes on hospice care.  I listen to or read prayer requests of broken homes, messed up families, drug abuse and pain.

Meanwhile the streets are filled with people yelling about love.

I don’t want to hear any more yelling.  Not that they’re wrong, just that yelling doesn’t solve it.  And I’m a retired caregiver, a teacher, a wife and a mom who is tired of noise.

I want to see hearts and chocolates, lace and roses, and I want to hear confessions of love and commitment.  I want our country to stop yelling and protesting and start loving.  God says it, and He says things for a reason.

Love is the only way the world heals.

So for those who come across this post, or your own conscience that tells us to actually DO something in love, let’s make this Valentine’s day something powerful.  Let’s fill our world with LOVE.

Make this Valentine's day something powerful #loveoutloud #Valentine'sDay Click To Tweet

I have, of course, some things near and dear to my heart, and I’ll post some links in case you’re looking for ways to share your love today, in a tangible way.  But there are a million ways out there to show love and care – find your way and DO it!

Love List

  1.  Donate to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.  They support research in a big way.  I’m partial to this one because it was my son’s battle.
  2. St. Jude is a children’s research hospital.  There are many, this is one of the more famous.  The beauty of childhood cancer research is that they share, and are thus making more progress than many adult cancer research programs.  Also, St. Jude seeks treatment for every child, without billing parents (at least that’s what they advertise).
  3. Look for your local school district.  Almost any classroom teacher would love some new books or some additional items to help in his/her classroom.  How about volunteering to listen to a child read?  It’s not as easy now as it used to be, our laws mean strict vetting of volunteers, but it’s still possible.
  4. How about assisting in a homeless shelter near you?  Google finds you lots of places that could use help.  I know the one near us is thrilled to get packages of toiletries.
  5. Donate blood.  There is ALWAYS a need.  I can attest to the fact that sometimes even children have to wait for blood, or platelets (that’s the one we always had to wait for) in times of crisis.  Donate!

This is just a tiny list of ways to reach out a share your Valentine heart of love with someone this week.  I’m sure you have a list too.  In fact, if you have a link you’d like to leave in the comments, let’s spread the love!

God bless you as you share your heart this week.

Let's fill our world with LOVE #Valentine'sDay Click To Tweet

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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Six Tips for Family Caregivers During a Catastrophe

Baby Steps at the Hospital

catastropheThe Family Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care at the Hospital

“Excuse me,” I interrupted the nurse as she stood at the desk working on charts. “I don’t think Pedro received his pain meds.”

“Let me check,” she replied with a busy frown. “Yes, it says right here that he had his meds an hour ago.”

“If you check your supply, I’m sure you’ll see that he didn’t receive them,” I insisted. I couldn’t believe my bravery—normally, I avoid conflicts at all cost. “The last nurse came in and said she would bring the meds, and then something came up. After that, the shifts changed.”

With a dubious, harried look, the nurse took off down the hallway towards the pharmacy dispensing room. I trailed behind.

Two minutes later, the chagrinned nurse came out of the room with a paper cup full of meds in her hand. “You’re right,” she said, and headed to Pedro’s room.

THIS was why I spent every spare minute in the hospital—to prevent human error from harming my husband. I might not be able to cure his cancer, but I could make sure he didn’t suffer because overworked and underpaid nurses forgot to dispense his meds.

The Slippery Slope of Caregiving

When a family member gets launched into a health crisis, primary caregivers get launched into a tandem trajectory of life changes. Our bodies enter the fright, flight, or freeze state—usually choosing to fight for our loved one.

Within hours, we go through a mental list of everything we will give up or reschedule in order to remain by our loved one’s side until the crisis resolves. All too often, we slip into a state of mind where we believe our presence and participation are indispensible.

Within hours, days, or weeks (depending on the severity of the circumstances) a firm conviction grows in our minds that if we step outside the hospital room, something worse will happen. Our fear keeps us tethered to the bedside of our loved one. Friends or other family members might encourage us to step away and take a break, but we KNOW that if we do, something bad will happen.

I fell into that trap during Pedro’s cancer year. It didn’t help that partway through the year, his early remission turned into a catastrophic relapse. It also didn’t help that he needed specialized treatment a thousand miles away. To make things worse, other family members lived closer to Pedro’s new hospital—and they, too, felt that their presence provided the only barrier between Pedro’s recovery and certain death.

We came to an uneasy compromise (neither of us fully trusted the other to do the right thing) about caregivers in Pedro’s hospital room. For his entire hospital stay during the worst of his illness, a family member spent the night (and often all of the day) with him.

Of course, my single-minded, hyper-focused dedication ended up harming me. In order to achieve balance and not endanger my own health, I finally made some changes.

Six Tips for Family Caregivers at the Hospital

1. Learn the schedule. Know the daily routine—when the nurses dispense meds and when the doctor makes rounds. Use an app on your phone or a good old-fashioned notebook that gets passed from caregiver to caregiver.Six tips for finding balance as a #caregiver when catastrope strikes. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-1BZ

2. Keep track of meds and adverse drug interactions. Pedro figured out that Zofran (a drug to prevent nausea) actually made him vomit. More than once, family caregivers had to point out to medical staff that he had a reaction and shouldn’t be given the medicine.

3. Take breaks! Every morning I would walk down the street to the local Starbucks. I always went before the shift change and well before rounds or meds (see #1 and #2). The brisk walk and change of scenery did me a world of good.

4. Take the stairs. Walking up 11 flights of stairs several times a day might not seem like self-care. But believe me, the endorphins helped counteract the stress-induced cortisol. Sneak in as much vigorous exercise as possible.

5. Share the burden. I came to really appreciate the family members who spent time with Pedro so that I could keep my job. Their love and participation in the duties made my life easier.

6. Breathe deeply. I know, it sounds self-explanatory. But throughout Pedro’s crisis, I resorted to shallow breathing—which harmed my health. Take time-outs throughout the day to breath deeply and think of things that bring you peace.

I know these all seem like baby steps. When a loved one experiences a catastrophe, baby steps might be all a family caregiver can take. Remember, survival mode takes precedence—and that actually helps you through the initial crisis.

These small steps will help you maintain balance and a sense of control when the world seems horribly out of the control.

 

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Don’t forget to visit the other #InspireMeMonday host site: www.anitaojeda.com

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The Power of Pudding

helping the medicine go down

 

Finding the secret to giving a young boy the nastiest tasting medicine became the challenge of my life over-night when he was diagnosed with leukemia. We tried everything.  Applesauce, ice cream, juice, Popsicles, regular food he liked (burritos were a favorite) yogurt and just plain water.  Nothing made that bitter, metallic taste palatable.  Applesauce worked pretty well for one medication, but made another worse.  It was a mystery and fighting a fussy four-year-old over medicine designed to save his life wasn’t really an option.  I had to win this battle!

And then one day, magic happened.  We tried pudding.  Vanilla didn’t work and butterscotch didn’t work, but with chocolate we struck gold. With chocolate pudding my boy could choke down his medicine with only a slight shudder shaking his body.  A good pudding chaser and he was happy. We had discovered the magic potion for medications.  The power of pudding!

If you’re a caregiver, you know what I’m talking about.  You look for that magic thing to coax someone to take another bite, or swallow their meds or relax those muscles enough for therapy.  If you’re a mother you look for the right currency to generate cooperation in your kiddos.  If you’re a teacher you look for the motivation to inspire something beyond the fill-in-the-blank mentality.  If you’re a coach…well, you get the picture.

In our every day lives it is more and more apparent that we’re going to need some pudding for life!  Sounds crazy, but think about it.

Politics. I’m not going to get into any political debates, don’t worry, but seriously, do we think we’ve put our best foot forward with our election options?  How about country relations? Global environment?

Crime. Lord, will the shootings ever stop?

Abuse.  Neglect.  Starvation.

Ugliness is pretty much everywhere.  It’s hard to take what’s happening in our lives sometimes.  It’s hard for Christians to argue that God is in control when things are so ugly.  Except we know He is. We know He holds our future, but the “now” can be pretty hard to swallow.

We know He holds our future, but the “now” can be pretty hard to swallow. #inspirememonday… Click To Tweet

So today I have some pudding for you.  Something to help us get through the bitterness of what this world has to offer.  Something to make the “now” palatable, although still not great.  Something to stop the shudders of nightmares and the tears of grief.

Here’s some medicine to get us through today, and this medicine has far more power than pudding.  Please add your preferred pudding/medicine in the comments below!

Pudding to help the medicine go down

Pudding to help the medicine go down

 

 

Pudding to help the medicine go down

Pudding to help the medicine go down

Pudding to help the medicine go down

Pudding to help the medicine go down

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week.

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

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The Caregiver’s 23rd Psalm (God Will Provide)

The other day as I studied Psalm 23, I found myself rewriting it in the margin of my Bible from a caregiver’s point of view.  Caregivers and sheep have a lot in common.  They feel clueless, helpless, and vulnerable (ok, I’ve never asked a sheep if this is how they feel, but they don’t run around marking their territory and acting invincible).

caregiver's psalm

The Caregiver’s Psalm

God provides for me, a caregiver—he offers to meet my every need.
He provides food, time for reflection and rest (but all too often I forget to take what he offers).

He knows my quirks and indulges me because he loves me. I feel refreshed when I spend time with him—a deep-down renewal from the toes up.

I might not always want to go where he leads, because I often think that I know best. But I have to remember that his ways are better than my way—they lead to right actions and right living. His ways lead to a closer, more intimate relationship with him.

Sometimes the path he leads me down scares me to the point of rebellion and refusal because it looks too frightening; filled with worst-case scenarios and things I don’t think I can handle. So I take a deep breath and remember that he walks with me, ready to guide me each step of the way through what terrifies me.

Not only does he walk with me, he has gone before me and conquered evil. God has a plan that will use me and my experiences to help others understand his character and perfect love.

The hard times simply prepare me to love—even my enemies and the people who annoy me.

Your love acts as a balm to my ruffled feathers, Oh, God, and fills me with peace so that I can function. Your goodness and love infuse my life—making me fit for living as part of your kingdom and caring for the person you have entrusted to me.

I am the caregiver, you are the curegiver. No matter where this journey leads me, I know that you walk beside me.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week.

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

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Listen to Your Heritage (It Has the Power to Transform You)

Listen to Longfellow

listen

Whenever I hear the word ‘Listen’ I immediately think of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem about Paul Revere:

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere… (http://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere.html)

Of course, I especially love the poem because of the family connection. Paul Revere happens to be my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. I have loved history ever since my grandma told me of my connection to Paul Revere.

As an awkward, introverted kid, I always felt rather proud and full of worth when I could share with my classmates that Paul and I had a family connection. Sometimes kids would scoff, but I had a Daughters of the American Revolution pedigree paper that my grandma had given to me prove my claim.

As a child, my pedigree defined me and gave me self-worth.

A Different Kind of Family

When I turned fourteen, I found a different basis for self-esteem. I spent the summer working in the kitchen at a summer camp, and I discovered that I had a different pedigree and an even more impressive lineage than a chance connection to a historical figure.

John 1:12 laid it all out for me, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” I realized for the first time that I have a place in God’s family.

Since God is the king, that makes me a princess, right? And what little girl (or gawky teenager, or hurting young adult, or worn out homemaker, or middle-aged granny) doesn’t want to be a princess?

So listen to me, friend. You can join the family. God wants you to step up and accept your lineage. We don’t have to put on our princess costume, and clean ourselves up before we join the family. We only have to accept the invitation and then let God do the cleaning up and transforming.

As an adult, my heavenly heritage defines me. Listen to your Father.  He wants to reveal your heritage to you and dress you like a princess.

Surreal

9/11 and Caregiving

In those surreal moments, remember you're not alone

In those surreal moments, remember you’re not alone

Surreal.  It’s a feeling that has been following me around this week.

Today, 9/11, definitely sparks memories of that day 15 years ago when I walked my oldest into her first grade classroom to find her teacher not paying attention to the arrival of the children like he usually did.  Instead he sat transfixed in front of the wall-mounted TV.  I watched reruns of the plane hitting the first tower, my heart rate increasing with each commentator’s announcement. Just as I wrapped my mind around one plane and one tower, another plane came from the side of the screen and blew into the second tower.  I made sure the teacher was watching the kids again, then I ran home.  And that is not a figure of speech.  I ran.  All the way home.  I burst into the bathroom and updated my husband and then glued myself to the television for the next couple of hours.

Surreal.

Over and over watching the planes crash, seeing items falling from the building and gradually realizing it was people jumping.  And then the worst moment, the collapse of the tower.  By the collapse of the second tower, feelings were numb.  The surreal feeling was the absolute certainty that this was terrorist, that this was planned and that this was evil.  The surreal unknown was that we didn’t know what was next.  Who was next.

Surreal.  The whole thing.

This week, for some reason, I’ve seen one St. Jude Children’s Hospital commercial over and over.  It’s a lovely family with three children (like us) and it appears the oldest has cancer (it was our youngest).  The dad talks about how wonderful it is that St. Jude’s has never given them a bill (why couldn’t we have been in THAT hospital).  The mom talks about the worries you have as a parent and how nice that St. Jude lessens those worries and you can concentrate on your child (concentrate on your child – the only thing a parent can do in that circumstance).  That’s all very nice.  But EVERY time, and I do mean EVERY time, I see that commercial, I get an adrenaline rush and that surreal feeling.

This week, as I watched my cancer-free sixteen-year-old struggle to find his footing in a new school, as I cut his fast-growing hair, as he hugged me from his six-foot-height, that surreal feeling overwhelmed me.  It wasn’t that long ago that we were fighting for his very next breath.  It wasn’t that long ago we were praying with every ounce of energy that he would wake up the next day.  It wasn’t that long ago we anointed him for healing.  It wasn’t that long ago I was pushing his pain med. pump after a bone marrow test and it wasn’t any time at all since I sat with my child, mask over his face, in the playroom, looking out the window at the world – just like in the commercial.

At the end of that commercial my heart aches for that family, and for the countless other families that are in the midst of that surreal moment of catastrophic illness and facing their child’s death.  My heart almost stops when I think of friends whose child did not make it through the battle.  Because while fighting for your child/s life is surreal, losing your child is the worst form of reality.

This blog is for those walking difficult journeys.  Those caregivers who are facing so much uncertainty that the surreal feeling never leaves and overwhelmed is a constant adjective with which you describe your life.  It’s for those who struggle with mental illness, or the loved ones who join in that fight.  It’s for mother’s of sick children, it’s for spouses who have had to change their job description.  It’s for worried dad’s and hurting families and caring friends. Anita and I pray that this blog is a place for anyone in need of the reminder that you’re not alone.

Through every surreal moment in your life, whether it be from memories of 9/11 or from caregiving or from just being careworn; there is someone reading this blog, or writing this blog, who is willing to pray for you.  You’re never alone.  But even better than that, the hope we want to offer is that you are never alone because the Creator of the Universe, the God of life, the Savior of the world, will never leave you nor forsake you.  Someday we’ll understand these surreal moments of life.  Until then, lean on the One who is able.

And if you’d like us to pray for you, please let us know!  Through any surreal moment – – you’re never alone.

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Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

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